Shepparton business on national stage as staff member attends ABARES conference

By Rodney Woods

A technical manager at a Shepparton fruit packing house was a guest speaker at the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences’ Outlook conference.

Bisi Oladele, who works at Geoffrey Thompson Holdings, spoke about the opportunities to collaborate, use creative thinking to reach out to customers and the need to upskill workers in workplaces with increasing automation, as part of a panel focused on the theme $100 billion by 2030: Can horticulture do some heavy lifting?

The panel discussion was based on the overall theme, Practical steps to reaching $100 billion by 2030, which follows the National Farmers’ Federation's 2018 vision of agricultural output passing $100 billion by 2030.

For the horticulture industry to do the ‘heavy lifting’, Dr Oladele said everyone needed to work together.

“I was talking about automation — where we're at, where can we get to and collaboration,” she said.

“Not all pack houses have automation but if they work with others who do have automation in the pack house, we can produce a larger amount of fruit.”

Dr Oladele said other things the industry needed to be doing was to think creatively about how to draw in customers and upskill staff to grow the industry.

She said the opportunity to speak came about after she completed her Nuffield Scholarship presentation last year in Brisbane.

“One of the staff at ABARES was there and he was the one that contacted me and asked if I wanted to share my findings from my Nuffield travel to policy makers.”

The one presentation that caught Dr Oladele's eyes focused on how regional communities need to be more flexible to grow and keep people in the regions.

The conference was held in Canberra on March 3 and 4.